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Will I Become Responsible for My Husband’s Student Loan Debt? – Karen

“Dear Steve,

My husband has two student loans from the late 1980’s. This occured prior to our meeting/marriage. The current situation (for the past 10 years) is that I am the sole provider for our family of four children (two teenagers & two almost). We have been contacted by different companies (I don’t know whom) regarding these loans. Although, with my income, we are doing better now then we were doing prior to our role reversals, we are still having to live paycheck to paycheck. A few weeks ago we were contacted again and I spoke with them instead. I’ve been given two options for repayment (neither of which I can afford), but am concerned that if I get involved, it will fall on to me as becoming my debt.

I’m not sure what to ask but want to know at what point have I become responsible for this debt. Will my own wages be garnished? What do I do???


Dear Karen,

You have no obligation to repay his debts. Even if you lived in a community property state, these debts occurred from before you were married.

It seems the only way you could be dragged in would be if the lender went after your joint tax refund money. Just make sure you are not overwithholding each month and you owe little tax at the end of the year to avoid that.

If he is capable, I’d toss this into his lap and tell him to deal with it. He might just have to go out and get a job to start earning money to repay this. As long as it sits there the balance just keeps growing. If it is a government backed loan and he started to earn some money to use to repay the loan he could look at the Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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